A Christmas Collection You Have to See

Photography by John O'Hagan

“I didn’t set out to collect 75,000 Santas,” Judy Parsons said with a laugh. When asked about her massive collection that has expanded over the last four decades, she said, “It just sort of happened.”

Photography by John O’Hagan

Judy began making her own ceramic Santas in the 60s and 70s, when ceramics were popular and when she didn’t have the money to buy the items she wanted. As the years went by she would occasionally purchase Santa figurines and other unique Christmas ornaments by the box-full at local thrift shops. She knew she had a lot of Christmas decorations in storage, but she didn’t yet realize she was cultivating such a distinctive collection.

Photography by John O’Hagan

While building their current home, Judy requested a storage room for all of her seasonal decorations, and once she saw the room, she knew she couldn’t keep her treasures boxed up all year. “I thought the room was just too pretty to store boxes in,” Judy said, explaining that she now has a long glass storage case, a large breakfront with glass doors, and several china cabinets to display her pieces year-round.

Photography by John O’Hagan

When she began organizing the contents of her boxed ornaments and figurines to place in her display cases, she realized the breadth and variety of her collections. “It was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got all these angels and Santas and churches!’ You don’t know you’ve got a collection until you start really shuffling through all of that,” she said.

But Judy doesn’t collect just to have a room full of Santas. She knows what she likes. “I try not to collect just for collecting’s sake; I like to make a memory,” Judy says, “It just makes it a happy time. They’re like old friends, bringing them out every year.”

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